The author writes frequently about the early years in the Far West, and has previously based her stories on real pioneers in Salt Lake City history, Wind Before the Dawn, 1964). James Brier was a minister whose family, including three sons, followed the gold seekers West to California from 1849-50. This story deals with their travels from Salt Lake City, when they left their guide in the hope of taking a shortcut, and had to cross Death Valley on foot. They followed the Jay-hawkers, a group of rough, adventurous young men, many of whom opposed being trailed by the Briers. There is no special insight into the hardships of the cross-country trek, or the feelings of the people, however the story is bolstered by its authentic basis. The text is quite easy to read and this may be a good first book for eight and nine year olds who crave something about the Western expansion.